Spending 40 hours a week in an office can take a toll on your body. Unhealthy habits at work can easily catch up to you, from eye strain and muscle tension to food choices and lack of exercise. While working in an office is inevitably sedentary, lifestyle choices at work can have a major impact on your health over time.
Here’s a closer look at our top 10 hacks for staying healthy at the office.
1. Practice Good Computer Habits
Working at a computer screen all day can be hard on your eyes, neck and back. To avoid strain from staring at a screen, there are small habits you can change today that can make a noticeable difference:
- Turn your computer brightness down to match the brightness of your surroundings
- Remember to blink. If your eyes are still dry, try using eye drops
- Sit up straighter at your desk. Good posture is important for tension in your neck and back
- Try an anti-glare screen for your monitor
- Zoom in and enlarge small text on your screen. Squinting to read can cause a strain on your eyes
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is important to avoid muscle tension, a lack of energy and immune system health. The three o’clock lull that many people experience at the office can actually be caused by dehydration. Make sure to drink eight to ten glasses of water every day to stay hydrated. If you’re having trouble staying on top of water consumption, many foods such as oranges, watermelon and apples can also help keep you hydrated.
3. Take a Walk
To avoid the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, moving your body frequently throughout the day is key. Try taking a short walk around the building a few times a day to keep blood flowing through your muscles. A longer walk during your lunch break is also a good idea to get in some exercise and get your heart rate pumping.
4. Office Ergonomics
Proper office ergonomics, such as the right chair height, spacing out of equipment and desk posture can help your joints stay healthy and safe while working in an office. According to the Mayo Clinic:
- Choose a chair that supports your natural spinal curvature. Adjust the height so that your feet rest comfortably on the ground and your thighs are parallel to the floor
- If you frequently talk on the phone, use headphones or a headset so you’re not cradling the phone in your neck
- If your chair or desk is too high off the ground, use a footrest
- Under your desk, make sure there is enough space for your knees and legs to stretch
- Place the monitor in front of you at about an arms length away
5. Alleviate Neck Tension
Tension Neck Syndrome (TNS) can occur when the neck is held in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time, such as looking down at a screen or talking on the phone. TNS can cause neck, back and shoulder pain, muscle tightness and tenderness. To avoid TNS, be aware of your posture, try not to bend your neck for extended periods and put your phone on speaker mode when possible.
6. Avoid Eye Strain
Eye strain can occur when your eyes are overused in intense activities such as reading, looking at a screen and driving. When experiencing eye strain, you may develop a headache, sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing. To avoid this at the office, make sure your computer screen is at a safe distance and you can read the words on the screen without squinting.
7. Stretch Your Muscles Frequently
Sitting for extended periods of time can leave your muscles feeling stiff. Additionally, stress from work can often build tension in your neck and shoulders. To avoid muscle tension, be sure to engage in daily stretches at your office. There are a number of yoga stretches you can do right from your desk to improve flexibility, release stress and leave you feeling refreshed.
8. Try the 20-20-20 Rule
When staring at a computer screen or paperwork for too long, your eyes muscles can become stiff, leading to that “end-of-the-day fuzziness” that is often experienced. To avoid strain on your eye muscles, try the 20-20-20 rule. After 20 minutes of work, take 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away. This will give your eyes a break and allow the muscles to adjust to normal movements.
9. Disinfect Your Space
Keyboards, mouses, phones and other surfaces at your desk can hold thousands of germs. Viruses can survive on a surface for hours to days at a time, making it very easy for illness to be transferred throughout the office. Be sure to have disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer at your workstation to disinfect the area from time to time.
10. Avoid Mindless Snacking
When vending machines and office snacks are conveniently close by, it can be easy to make unhealthy food choices. However, sugary, processed snacks can cause your energy to crash towards the end of the day. To avoid temptations, keep a few healthier snacks that you enjoy eating at your desk such as fruit or nut mixes. This will limit your temptations to mindlessly snack on unhealthy options.
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